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Politically Incorrect

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According to Einstein, I might just be crazy

I am a person who likes my ruts. I blame this on my parents, whose lifestyle led us to move frequently when I was a child - routine was something I eventually embraced as an adult with the fervor of someone clinging onto a lamppost in the face of a hurricane.

Unfortunately, I hold on to my ruts even when they’re leading me off the road and over the cliff. In fact, by Einstein’s definition I could actually be insane, as I have certainly spent way too much of my life doing the same thing over and over, expecting to get a different result. Unfortunately, there are some things that practice just can’t make perfect.

There’s nothing like a little health crisis to make a gal examine her ruts. But even though I knew my own tendencies in this area, I didn’t realize I had so darn many of them! The truly sad part of this is how many of those ruts are there for no good reason - kind of like that story where the woman makes meatloaf for dinner in two separate pans and, when asked why, answers “Because that’s how my mother did it.” Of course, when she asked her mother for an explanation of why she always made meatloaf in two pans, her mama explained that her big meatloaf pan wouldn’t fit in her oven.

I once attended a workshop where the leader asked us to list, first, what we believe in and then, after that list was made, to list what we actually do with our lives.

Luckily that was an ungraded exercise, because I would have failed.

I believe that our modern food industry is killing us - from salmonella in spinach to mad-cow disease to the enormous cost of fossil fuels in shipping food to our local market. I believe that fresh eggs, butter, whole milk, cheese and yes, even sugar are better for you than the chemical substitutes offered to us in the name of progress.

What do I do? Well, I hate to admit this publicly, but I have actually made a meal out of four Twizzlers® licorice sticks. More than once.

I don’t plant a garden thanks to my black thumb, under which only noxious weeds seem to thrive. (Yes, I’ve actually managed to kill a snake plant, that’s not just a rumor). I don’t shop the farmer’s market because it’s too far away (though Clark Fork is supposed to have a market this year). I don’t even cook a lot, given that my tendency to “run check my email while this simmers” too often leads to a black mass in the skillet.

That has to change. Food - good, wholesome, non-genetically modified, fresh, in-season local food - is what my body was designed to use as fuel and I’ve allowed my tank to run much too low.

Speaking of running bodies, I believe our bodies were created to perform regular physical work, and function best when that’s what they’re used for.

What do I do? Well, I type, so my wrists are in really good shape. I drive, so my right ankle has awesome muscle tone. The rest of me isn’t doing as well, because a short season of volleyball, the occasional massive physical effort of mowing four-foot-high grass in the yard, and walking up and down the five steps of my porch a couple times a day just aren’t cutting it as far as what my body needs in order to feel its best.

It’s been two years - two years! - since I went on a hike. This, too has to change. I hear that sunshine has finally made an appearance, and given that, as I write this, we are crossing over the hump and heading back down the road to winter, I need to take advantage of it. The world will not end if I quit working 60 and 70 hour weeks and take some time to do the things I enjoy and that feed me in return.

I believe that, right after our families, our friends are one of the greatest resources we possess. Mine especially. I’ve been blessed in having friends who bring out the best in me instead of encouraging the worst. And believe me, I need that! Left to my own devices, I will never achieve my potential, never become the person I want to be. Donne hit the nail on the head when he wrote that “no man is an island, entire of itself.” Yet as my health degenerated over the past few years, as my energy and enthusiasm waned, my response was to cut myself off from something that could have helped me tremendously - my friends. It took too much effort to drive into town. I can state unequivocally now that email - as much as I love it - can not replace the actual, physical presence of people in your life who love you, will help you, and will demand more of you than you’ll consistently demand of yourself.

So my solitude, also, has to change, and it already is. I saw Doris face-to-face for the first time in over a year. I had lunch with Carol (twice) and we walked across town and around City Beach, talking and catching up. I sat for a while in the summer sun with Barb and Angela and Jacquie, feeling the simple happiness that engulfs me just by being in their presence. I have met, in person, with many of the people whose contributions make this publication you hold in your hands “worth wading through,” talking about the future and what we’d all like to see come of it. More and more and more of that will only make life better and better. Like exercise, you don’t appreciate how good it makes you feel until you’ve done it.

I believe this nation is at a crossroads, as it has been so many times in its short history. Issues like climate change, civil liberties, and just how well we follow Jesus’ injunction to care for the least of us will occupy us for years to come.

What do I do? Well, in many ways I gave up. Not just on the issues themselves, but on the people around me who will make the choices to deal with all those issues. Eight years of George Bush’s (and PNAC’s) vision for America had convinced me that Americans as a whole are just too selfish, too hypocritical and yes, just too damn ignorant to ever adequately address any of the issues before us.

That’s changing, too, as I watch the permutations within the American electorate. George Bush himself has finally admitted that we’re in the midst of climate change and Rupert Murdoch has pledged to make his companies “carbon neutral.” An Australian native concerned over what’s happening in his own homeland, Murdoch, and his Fox News Network, has already demonstrated his ability to convince the American public of whatever it is he wants them to believe.

And then, out of the blue, here comes Obama. Love him or hate him, he has reinvigorated the American debate process, dragging it out of hibernation and bringing it into the mainstream again.

Without support from PACs or from federal lobbyists, as of the end of the first quarter of 2008 Obama had raised almost $234 million - a clear case of people putting their money where there mouths are.

Just think of it. Americans, giving $234 million (plus more since), in support of a black man becoming the “leader of the free world,” - and one with a Muslim heritage, to boot.

Maybe we’re not as ignorant as I thought.

The outcomes of change are never guaranteed, but the process of it - the examination of what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and what we’re getting from it - might just be the essence of life itself.

Here’s to living.

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Landon Otis

Tagged as:

change, Einstein

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